Romance Roundtable #4: The Maverick

Welcome to Romance Roundtable: a feature where all four editorial POME Crones gather together to discuss a Harlequin romance manga. Today we’re discussing THE MAVERICK by Diana Palmer (Author) and Karan Dan (Illustrator) — a fast-paced romantic thriller about bone-chilling murder, sexy Angst Cowboys, and, uh, abuses of power within the Texas legislature.



Jenny: I’d like to kick this off


"I wouldn't buy you from the groom shop, even if you were in the bargain bin." says a wide-eyed, sassy CSI lady.

Rachel: where is this store????? is it on yelp?????
what is the return policy
I need 2 know
Carolynn: it’s amazon
i 100% bet u can buy a husband on amazon
it’s probably like 30% of a husband but like, w/e
Ashley: Why do husband stores figure so prominently in these books
Jenny: it’s the female fantasy
that’s what harlequin is about
roll on up to the husband store
also does rentals for family gatherings
Rachel: husbands are apparently the end goal
Carolynn: the husband store used to be brick and mortar
we millennials just don’t know bc they went online exclusive before we came of age
Jenny: keeps the overhead low
Rachel: I’m sure they’ll start advertising on insta soon though
Ashley: Is that why millennials are killing marriage??? Cuz we just don’t have the retail locations
Jenny: they ship the husbands out straight from the manufacturer
Carolynn: they can cut a lot more corners when you can’t like, see the husband before u take it home
we really need to expand our brand to starting the Casper of husbands
90 day no-risk trial
Jenny: honestly


Carolynn: so do yall wanna do a plot summary before we launch right in?
Rachel: yeah def
Carolynn: my summary is: sassy crime scene investigator solves murder, acquires cowboy husband and cute dog in the process
Jenny: CSI Alice, the virgin, rightfully suspects Ted Cruz, but it turns out the real murderer was DICK THUNDER

"So that's his younger brother, Dick Thunder" she says. "The man glaring at me."

Carolynn: oh my god DICK THUNDER
Ashley: Crime scene investigator is apparently only competent detective in rural Texas; solves murders and finds love; dream wedding in beautiful Galveston, Texas; Texas senators are forever murdering trash
Carolynn: BEXAR COUNTY – just outside of San Antonio!!!!
Ashley: Lolllllll
Carolynn: this was written in 2013
Jenny: they go to galveston on their honeymoon
Carolynn: see this is what happened if Leticia Van de Putte wasn’t state senator of SA
Ashley: Seems accurate to me
Carolynn: At what point must a murderous senator raise his hand or his voice to be recognized over his cowpoke/ex mercenary colleagues?
t e x a s d e e p c u t s
Wtf is UP with the ex mercenary thing and the mercenary school!!!!
Sequel about the Texan mercenary school please!!
Carolynn: i was honestly surprised he wasn’t an ex texas ranger
i bet the writer isn’t a texan
i think if she was that is 100% where that would have gone

"A suspicious vehicle's been discovered downstream. It has a San Antonio license plate on it" says somebody who doesn't know how Texas works.

Carolynn: yeah how does that work????
maybe it’s a novelty plate
Jenny: may not even be american ^^ doesn’t seem to know that states have plates but cities don’t
Ashley: The writer is DEF not Texan because she made the same mistake as me when choosing Galveston for the romantic Texas beach location
Instead of like mustang island or whatever
Jenny: probably a novelty plate from the big san antonio cinema complex

"What do you say to catching a movie at San Antonio's giant cinema complex", says Texas Mamo-chan.

Carolynn: OMG I KNOW
but also i think i have been to that cinema complex and i think that was where i saw juno
Ashley: I’ve been there haha
Jenny: it’s a real thing??
with such a vague name?
Ashley: Yeah it’s like in a giant mall
Or near a giant mall
And it’s like purple or something I think?
Jenny: you know what this writer DOES get right about texas though

"It's still warm weather, even though it's almost Christmas" says somebody who has definitely been to Texas.

Ashley: Hahahaha yup


Carolynn: oh dang so do we need to get more into the plot with this one? it has more of a plot than usual
what was Supportive Bad Haircut’s name again?
Jenny: the not dad dad?
Ashley: I cannot remember his name
Rachel: Cy????
Ashley: The guy who owns the ranch that Texas Mamo chan works on
Carolynn: no the love interest
the main guy!!!!! bad haircut, looks like he got caught in the rain!
Rachel: oh
Carolynn: Texas Mamo!
Ashley: lol ya isn’t he Texas mamo tho??? I mean that meet cute

"Ah!" A tall cowboy collides with a very blonde CSI in the most meetcute meetcute ever.

Carolynn: so wait was the ranchhand also a mercenary then???
Ashley: This plot is so confusing!!!!!
Rachel: literally the whole book is confusing!
I had to reread several parts of it!
Ashley: Shall we try to unravel just the murder part?
Rachel: yes
Ashley: Lol Rachel
Jenny: that’s because the real villains weren’t introduced until like 3/4 of the way in
Ashley: True Jenny
Also I thought the priest was the culprit for a sec
Jenny: the “pastor” who dresses like a priest

"I'm in danger?" says a pastor cosplaying as a priest.

Ashley: lol
Carolynn: imo it’s just bc non catholics are like, close enough???
catholics are like HOW DARE U


Rachel: ok so
a dude is murdered and his face is mashed up
they sit on that for like
a real long time
Ashley: Lol ya
Rachel: long enough for Texas Mamo and CSI Usagi to fall in love
Carolynn: she’s more like extra horny scully
Rachel: Extra horny Scully is immediately like MARRY ME because she’s deflecting and for some reason she thinks that’s chiller????
Ashley: The murdered dude ends up being Jack, who was boning the maid Dolores, is that correct?
Rachel: yes!
they were ~*~ in love ~*~
and then Dolores gets shot
because our heroes talked to her
Carolynn: they were engaged ~~~ but then he tries to change his crimester ways
Rachel: and the Bad Guy assumed she had deets
Carolynn: so he gets murdered and she knows about it so the heroes accidentally get her murdered
Rachel: because turns out that Jack was murdered because he had seen ANOTHER MURDER????
Jenny: W Thunder knocks a woman up; she is killed by his brother Dick Thunder, so that W can marry into a good family and go on to a career as a Texas Legislator. Some guy knows that Dick Thunder killed this woman, so Dick Thunder kills that guy. And then that guy’s girlfriend, dolores, gets killed too bc Dick Thunder thinks the guy might’ve blabbed
Ashley: Ohhhhhh
Jenny you unraveled it real good
Rachel: yeah fucking bravo
Carolynn: wow jenny
bc i did not get a lot of that first part!
all i knew was that dick thunder got Cute Detective demoted

"You used to be a detective with the San Antonio unit" says the CSI. "Now I'm the sheriff's assistant here. My name's Diana" she says, with almost no pettiness.

Ashley: Oh yeah!!
There was a page where as usual I was getting cute lesbian vibes

"You're brilliant, unconventional, charming, and spirited. Not to mention, a virgin" she says, winking. "Heheh we should go out for drinks sometime," she responds.

Jenny: the real otp
Ashley: Omg that one
Ashley: For real
Jenny: people don’t just talk about that!
Ashley: It’s B A N AN A S that everyone knows that about her
Rachel: does everybody in the Bexar County police know?????
and she’s SO CHILL about it
I would be like
Ashley: But apparently it’s because she has bad sex education and is afraid of STDs which ACCURATE for Texas

"I don't want to catch an STD. Nobody ever says when they have an STD. Do you?" she asks, blushing.

Rachel: very true
Carolynn: that is some hardcore flirting tho
Ashley: It is
Jenny: it really is!
Rachel: wait there is a great part where she’s like
“I hate men”
so I thought maybe it was just misogyny

"I hate men" she says, looking at his back as he walks away.

Ashley: Hahaha yesssss
Rachel: JENNY
Ashley: I like to think about the writer actually doing some research compared to the others we’ve read and it’s like, okay in Texas it’s hot, there’s cows, the sex education and politicians are bad, and lesbian detectives
And also Galveston is beautiful
Jenny: year round
galveston is beautiful all the time, they claim
Ashley: Even in winter lol
In winter, when it’s 75 degrees and the water is a lighter shade of brown!
Jenny: honeymoon DESTINATION
Ashley: That’s actually literally where tommy proposed to me
So I was charmed
Jenny: that’s cute bro
v sweet
(this reads sarcastic, but i mean it)
Ashley: Haha thank you Jenny ❤️
Jenny: ~~smooth transition into my next great screenshot~~
this is how to ward off catcallers

"Hey you, want to see a dead body?" she asked, in the very best way to get read of weirdos ever.

“hey baby how you doin'”
“want to see a dead body??”
Ashley: Naoko Takeuchi would be proud
Rachel: also this is pretentious but her BLACKBERRY
Carolynn: man even in 2013…
Ashley: Lol omg
Jenny: more like 2008 amirite?
(idk actually)
Ashley: Blackberries are for shitty ex boyfriends and evil corporate executives ONLY
Carolynn: those tiny keys are so impractical



Carolynn: so
I thought this romance actually ended up being p cute in the end, but the Looks, man, nope

"Alice, there aren't many people like you" he says in a truly amazing knit suit.

Carolynn: w h a t ????
Rachel: lol the pattern on that suit
Jenny: A KNIT
Ashley: awwww I liked the looks!!!!
Ashley: What about their cool boots!!!!!!

"Come on, little guy. Don't stray from the herd" he said in some truly top notch, ornate boots.

Jenny: i loved her like tweed power suit

"Harley was right. He's bad news" she says, walking away in her tweed power suit.

Rachel: I didn’t think this romance was very good actually, but it was Not Gross so in that sense it is the 2nd best we’ve read
Carolynn: I thought they were cute!!

They look into their eyes, they smooch, and flowers appear behind them.

Ashley: Haha yeah I thought they were cute too
I mean the COWS
The turnip eating cows!!!!!!
Jenny: i’ll be honest, i was a little lukewarm on the romance as well
Carolynn: i appreciated that, while the courtship was way way way too fast, they liked each other and developed a relationship
also he wasn’t actively lying the entire story
Jenny: that’s a good step you’re right
i did like that they took every opportunity to have him bend her over something passionately
Ashley: That was hot
Carolynn: although he def could have disclosed about his dad, Senator Mustache
Jenny: clearly he was def into her

"Do you think I'm just a normal person?" "Normal? More like adorable. Uh, I mean...!"

Carolynn: i like that he looks like a visual kei guy with no makeup on in a cowboy hat
Morning Gackt


Ashley: Oh yeah did the mom look sick to y’all at the end??
She was old and sweating
Jenny: i mean, i am old and sweating
Ashley: Lol
Not THAT old and THAT sweating tho
Carolynn: speaking of the parents

"Dad. Just as arrogant as ever" He says, 1,000 feet in the air.

Carolynn: daddy longlegs
Ashley: He had a tiny shrunken voodoo head
Rachel: every man in this books has the body of a giant and the head size of a baby
all of their heads are so small!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jenny: esp that sheriff tbh
Carolynn: look at this weird ass dick

"But this time you're the victim" says the walking chin.

v chiseled
Ashley: He looks like Klaus Kinski, also famously evil
Carolynn: with a name like Dick Thunder your only real options are porn or murder tbh
he looks v botoxed to me
Jenny: could be both
Ashley: True Jenny true!!!
Rachel: man I love my sister, but I do not think I would murder a lady who was carrying her baby
for Her Career
Jenny: i mean presumably dick thunder was already p willing to murder (and this was just a flimsy justification)
Carolynn: i mean things could have turned out v different in The Italian Playboy’s Secret Son is all I’m saying
Jenny: yikes
no sweet steven u boy


Carolynn: i love normie looking dudes in anime
where the artist is like, but, can he be like 12% hot tho

"Watch your step. There may be footprints" our heroine tells the 12% hot dudes in the background of the panel.

Rachel: everybody in Bexar County works out
Jenny: i feel like all of them look the same, but the hot ones have backgrounds
and that’s how you tell
for instance

"Also, I'm still a virgin" she says, and male and female symbols appear in the ether around him.

Rachel: lol I Love the hat
it’s just the suggestion of a hat
Jenny: what a great and sexy background
Ashley: Onggggg
I died!!!!!!
I mean are the sex symbols supposed to represent him being suddenly overwhelmed by thoughts of genitalia????
Jenny: i mean look
he a simple cowboy
he doesn’t get out much
Ashley: You’d think he’d know MORE virgins in that case??
Carolynn: manga equivalent of ????????
Ashley: Lol CC
Carolynn: everyone in bexar county is a virgin
Ashley: sounds right
Jenny: that’s why they work out so much
for the endorphins
Carolynn: no one has ever been born in bexar county
Ashley: Facts are facts guys!!
Carolynn: like legit the food in bexar county is the best anywhere & everyone is too tired to bone
Ashley: Hahaha


Carolynn: what did yall think about this recurring gag
I love it

"Really? I've watched the entire series of CSI" he says, as her eyes roll back into her head and she crumbles into dust.

Ashley: So good
Rachel: I think CSI is the only thing people in bexar county watch
Ashley: I love it when she’s like, I’m gonna kill him for setting me up into a csi otaku trap
Carolynn: lol
Jenny: you’d think she’d have an easier time getting a date (she claims people always balk when they hear she’s a csi — and YET)
i bet that checkout boy from the opening scene would date her
Ashley: I mean, she loves dead bodies and doesn’t put out
Carolynn: maybe they keep giving her their screenplays
and she’s like, uh, ????
Jenny: nothing will ruin a date faster than being asked to read his screenplay
Carolynn: ^^^^^^^^^
Ashley: Lol god so true
Carolynn: so much of this script, esp the lines the protag says, read like they were written by a sassy old lady and lo and behold
Rachel: I choose the dead body over the screenplay every time
Carolynn: OMG RACHEL
Ashley: Ahhhhhh haha


Carolynn: this lady is exactly the voice i heard while reading the line about the husband store

Diana Palmer is the hero we need.

Jenny: what an ICON
Ashley: You out-researched her!!
Jenny: so many cowboy themed ones
Carolynn: like exactly what i pictured in my head
she’s a woman who knows what she likes
and what she likes is sassing cowboys who respect her work, and also awk murder plots
Jenny: an inspiration
Ashley: I mean I’d buy her a trophy from the trophy store for sure
A husband shaped trophy
Jenny: 100%
Carolynn: same

Drinking tea when a handsome cowboy enters the room is really living the dream.

Carolynn: a gackt in a cowboy costume shaped trophy
Ashley: Hahaha yessss


Rachel: alrighty ladies, it’s been some time so any final thoughts before our final thoughts?
Carolynn: hmm well one thing i wanted to talk about was
sorry cc
Interrupting cow eats turnips
Carolynn: i actually did really dig this one but i did Not like that the protag is so ready to give up her career
like anytime it gets in the way of her fleeting romance with Cowboy Mamo Gackt
also there’s always time for turnip cow
she’s p much an academy award winner in the state senator’s banquet of this group chat
Jenny: i mean yeah — she def takes a lot of time off
explains it right away though

"It's hard to believe I'd be able to take so much time off in the middle of a pressing case" she says on top of her horse.

Jenny: but i did like that he was all “don’t give up your career. this is what you were meant to do. i’ll support whatever you choose.”
Carolynn: but her response is “I’LL QUIT BEING A CSI IM SORRY”
Carolynn: i like that he kept insisting she press on in her field but like, man, she offers to give up CSIing forever like 3 times
Jenny: kind of a bummer
Carolynn: but ya that’s all i got on that topic tho
oh and also this is a nice effect

"I consider my job a noble career that makes bad guys pay the price for their actions" she says, with 0% irony.

Ashley: That was genuinely sweet
Jenny: v cute
Carolynn: let me remind yall that she is talking about cadavers like 2 panels prior
Ashley: Hahaha
Rachel: that’s my girl
Carolynn: it is a surprise sweet moment and also some great accidental tonal dissonance hehehe
are yall ready for takeaways?
Ashley: Let’s do it
Jenny: if you don’t know what to get your man for christmas, he has actually “been looking for [a cow-shaped tie pin] forever”

"Nice. I've been looking for one of these forever" he says, also with 0% irony.

Ashley: Omg Jenny so good
Carolynn: wow what a gift
Ashley: My takeaway is me and turnip cow are in love and we’re getting married at a gay furry bar in Galveston, bye
Carolynn: wishing u and turnip cow the very very best in life
Ashley: Thank u :-3
Carolynn: my takeaway is that ann richards is and remains by far the best thing to happen to texas politics
Ashley: It’s a stretch but I love it
Carolynn: At what point must a turnip cow raise her hoof or her voice to be recognized over her male cowherd?
Ashley: ????????????????????????
Rachel: my takeaway is that if I talk about murder enough, I will find true love
Carolynn: ????????????????????
Ashley: Very good point!!!
Carolynn: ya fuck scrapbooking



Join us for our next Romance Roundtable, where we tackle HOSTILE ENGAGEMENT: a story of fake dating that inevitably turns into sincere smooching, because of course it does.


CC Calanthe

CC Calanthe

If you prick your finger and write “Cat Fancy” on your mirror during a harvest moon, CC will appear behind you and make you put human clothes on your pets. CC is Head Crone in Charge at POMEgranate Magazine, as well as the co-host of Moon Podcast Power MAKE UP!!
Ashley Gallagher

Ashley Gallagher

Ashley writes comics and emails from zir burrow in the Pacific Northwest. Ze is a sentient subtropical swamp fern whose favorite food is old words.
Jenny Mott

Jenny Mott

Jenny is just a Silly Nerd with a lot of Feelings about Comic Books and Friendship and also This Capitalist Yoke We All Share; she enjoys Dogs and Sleeping and Cartoons. Her three favorite words are: Breakfast All Day.
Rachel Weiss

Rachel Weiss

Rachel is a designer and artist from Texas. She is pro-feminism, pro-crones, and pro-dogs. She's also Boss Crone at POMEgranate Magazine, and one day hopes to be able to drink her tea without so much milk and sugar.
POMEgranate Magazine